Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At the Cabin

This past Saturday was my parents 50th wedding anniversary so my brother, sister, and I rented a cabin by a lake for a three-day family weekend.  Happily, our entire family was able to come including my son and daughter and their spouses, we had a wonderful weekend. 

My daughter-in-law does photo restoration so she restored a photo we had of their wedding day and gave it to them as a gift.  My parents have set such a wonderful example for their family, I couldn't have asked for better parents.

I can only hope I have set such an example for my children.  Here they are in the center of the photo with their spouses.

The weekend gave us lots of time to visit around a campfire.  It was so good to spend time with my sister and her husband from Washington state.

There was time spent in the lake and walks amongst the thick foliage that is northern Minnesota.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rhubarb Cream Scones

Rhubarb Cream Scones
as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles with a healthier version over at Mahlzeit

2 1/2 cups ( 12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (3.5 ounces) plus 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 cups diced rhubarb (1/4-inch cubes), about 3 stalks
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven to 400F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Adjust a baking rack to the middle position.  In a small bowl, mix the rhubarb with 3 tablespoons sugar.

2.  In a food processor, pulse the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt a few times, just to mix.  Distribute the butter evenly over the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer to large bowl.

3.  Stir the rhubarb into the flour mixture.  Lightly beat the egg, yolk, and cream together in a bowl (use the same one you used for the rhubarb), then add this mixture to the flour mixture.  Stir until just combined.

4.  On a well-floured surface with floured hands, pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter).  Using a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary.  Arrange rounds about 1-inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.  Transfer the scones to a cooling rack and let them cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ginger Muffins

Ginger Muffins
adapted from: Martha Stewart Entertaining

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Grated rind of 1 large orange
1/2 cup boiling water
4 tablespoons sour cream
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter pan.  Melt butter in molasses in a small saucepan.  Cool.  Beat egg and sugar until fluffy.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Add to the egg mixture alternately with the butter and molasses, stirring well.  Add the rind, boiling water, salt, and sour cream.  Blend well.

Fill muffin tins half full.  Bake in preheated oven until puffed, about 15 minutes.  Turn muffins onto rack to cool.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sicilian Chicken

Sicilian Chicken

1 whole chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tablespoon of capers, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of dried thyme or a few sprigs fresh (I used fresh lemon thyme)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of green olives, pitted and sliced (I left these out)
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large pot, saute' the chicken in butter and olive oil until browned.  Take the chicken out and set aside.  Saute' onion in the same pot until it becomes translucent.  Add celery and saute' until it begins to soften.  Add garlic and saute' another minute watching it closely so it doesn't burn.  Add wine, capers, bay leaves, thyme, tomato paste, chicken broth, red pepper, salt and pepper.  Add chicken back to the pot, cover and place in 350 degree oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through.  Chicken will pull away from the bone and juices will run clear when pricked with a fork; time will vary depending on the size of the bird.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sugar Snap Pea and Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

Sugar Snap Pea and Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad
Serves 6

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 ounces whole-wheat bowtie pasta
8 ounces fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 cups red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for cooking pasta.

2. Meanwhile, puree cottage cheese until smooth in a blender or mini food processor.  Add buttermilk and oil; process until smooth.  Scrape into a storage container and stir in dill, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

3. Cook pasta in boiling water until just al dente, about 10 minutes.  Add peas and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute.  Drain and rinse under cold running water.

4. Place pasta and peas in a large storage container and toss with tomatoes and scallions.  Season with salt and pepper.

5. Just before serving, toss salad with dressing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Poet Pablo Neruda: "Ode to Bicycles"

Yesterday afternoon while on break I finished The Dreamer, a 2010 children's novel by Pam Munoz Ryan.  The book is a work of fiction based on poet Pablo Neruda's childhood.  A very well written book and one I would not be surprised to see awards bestowed upon.

I finished the novel and then began to read Pablo Neruda's poems in the appendix.  That's when I came across his poem "Ode to Bicycles" and it struck a chord.

You see, I have thoroughly enjoyed riding my bicycle to work, it is the perfect way to start the day; fresh air and a chance to take a closer look at the beauty of summer around me.  At the end of the day riding bike is a great way to relax.  Yesterday though, I was unable to ride my bike since I had a midday appointment across town.  Just reading this poem made me want to get back on my bicycle.

 Ode to Bicycles

I was walking
a sizzling road:
the sun popped like
a field of blazing maize,
was hot,
an infinite circle
with an empty
blue sky overhead.

A few bicycles
me by,
the only
that dry
moment of summer,
barely stirred
the air.

Workers and girls
were riding to their
their eyes
to summer,
their heads to the sky,
sitting on the
beetle backs
of the whirling
that whirred
as they rode by
bridges, rosebushes, brambles
and midday.

I thought about evening when the boys
wash up,
sing, eat, raise
a cup
of wine
in honor
of love
and life,
and waiting
at the door,
the bicycle,
only moving
does it have a soul,
and fallen there
it isn't
a translucent insect
through summer
a cold
that will return to
when it's needed,
when it's light,
that is,
of each day.

-Pablo Neruda

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ricotta Crostini with Cherry Tomatoes

Ricotta Crostini with Cherry Tomatoes
adapted from Saveur

Handful of cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 loaf of ciabatta or another peasant-style bread
1 garlic clove, peeled
1-1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, room temperature, preferably homemade  (it really is better)
Fresh basil
Parmesan cheese

1. Toss tomatoes in a small skillet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, set 5" under broiler element, and leave until the tomatoes have burst and started to release their juices, about 8 minutes.  Set aside.

2. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire in a grill or set gas grill to medium-high heat.  Cut bread into 1/2"-thick crosswise slices.  Drizzle the bread with olive oil.  Grill bread slices until both sides have grill marks and slightly charred crusts, 4 - 5 minutes.

3. While hot, rub bread with garlic, if you like.  Slater 1 tablespoon of the ricotta on top of each toasted slice.

4. Spoon oozing cherry tomatoes onto ricotta.  Garnish with fresh basil, thin shavings of parmesan cheese and more black pepper.

Serves 4 - 6